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Old 03-26-2010, 10:30 AM
 
7 posts, read 14,429 times
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As it's always interesting to see what is said about New Jersey teachers on this forum (I’ve lurked but not registered/posted for a long time), I thought I would offer my own personal perspective. As they say, "Where you stand depends upon where you sit." Well, last night I sat consoling my wife who, while its not official just yet, is going to be laid off from her job as a teacher at the end of the year. This is not a thread meant to vilify Chris Christie or to criticize the union because, quite frankly, I find fault with both of them. My wife's district's funding was cut to the point that they will need to eliminate non-tenured staff in order to make up the gap after cutting other non-personnel related expenditures. I understand what the Governor is faced with and what he is trying to do, etc... I also understand that the offer was made to all locals of the union to contribute 1.5% of salary toward health benefits, and to agree to a one year wage freeze, which her local is not supporting. Due to these two factors, she and the other non-tenured staff are going to lose their jobs. Teachers and their union take an awful lot of flack on this board and I suppose some will line up in the "it's the union's fault" camp-others will line up in the "it's Christie's fault" camp. I see it both ways.

I fault Governor Christie not for cutting the district aid in the first place, but rather for cutting it knowing full well that the youngest, freshest, and in many cases, enthusiastic teachers would be let go. I would think that there must be a way to cut budgets a little more precisely by challenging the status quo with regard to the way that school districts are run. Specifically, I heard a report on the news this morning that over 700 district officials statewide make more than the Commissioner of Education! The Commissioner's salary is something like $154K per year. The fact that there was never a salary cap for Superintendents and the like put in place years ago is insane! By state law no Commissioner can make more than the Governor-so why should Superintendents!? No public employee should make more than the highest ranking public employee in the state! I don't know for certain, but I highly doubt that any federal government official makes more than the President. In any event, if the Governor were to explain to the public that schools need to be held accountable for their administrative costs, he would likely win the support of the general public and union members alike. What we have now are tenured and non-tenured staff pitted against each other, and the general public pitted against all teachers.

Now, though I don't agree with the union's position of no contribution to health benefits and no wage freeze, I do see their motivation. They are afraid that if they make any concession at all that it will send them (and their members) down a slippery slope to lower pay, lower benefits, etc... It's no secret that most members of the general public in New Jersey have an extremely low opinion of teachers. Most people simply view teachers as overpaid babysitters that they send their children to for six hours a day, who loaf all summer and whine about how underpaid they are. If teacher pay were put to referendum tomorrow teachers would be making minimum wage. I'm in no position to change anyone's mind, I know how much my wife loves her job, how hard she works, and how much she cares about her students and that's good enough for me. It would just be nice for people to understand where the union is coming from now that they're backed into a corner. If I could send a message to the union and the Governor right now I'd say tell school districts to cut/cap the administrative spending, tell the union to starting paying into health benefits and agree to a temporary wage freeze, and let's re-evaluate this whole mess in a year-would that be so hard?

I close with addressing the fact that most folks don't think that teachers live in "the real world." Trust me, the world is very real for us-my wife will receive her last check June 30th and though she will commit all of her energy to finding a new job, what district could possibly be in a position to hire anyone right now? She is also looking for private sector jobs but let's be realistic, that's not exactly looking rosy right now either. I'm lucky in the sense that I'm a federal civillian employee at Fort Dix and my employment is not in jeopardy, but my salary is not near enough for us to live on, and she is not covered under my health benefits because after we got married we decided it was simply too expensive to add her and she didn't really need them anyway. Now we are faced with what to once she loses her benefits this summer-even if I wanted to add her I can't because "open enrollment" isn't until December. That's besides the fact that with her on unemployment and me having to pay for both of our health coverage we'll be on shaky financial ground anyway. We were actually thinking of trying to apply for part time jobs with a company that offers part timers health benefits (there are some out there) in the hopes that with both of us working part time we could almost replace her salary and get health coverage for her at the same time. I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just trying to emphasize the fact that we do actually know what folks in the private sector are going through. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts on this.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:41 AM
 
377 posts, read 965,520 times
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Piney Power- you are lucky to be at Fort Dix and that your job was not in jeopardy. My husband was a civilian federal employee at Fort Monmouth and now we are in De., so he can work at APG. I know that is off topic with your message, but I thought I would throw that in there. Many people's jobs are at jeopardy at Fort Monmouth, it is not just teachers who are losing their jobs in this economy.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:43 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry NC/Randolph NJ/Cape Coral FL
12,880 posts, read 23,783,671 times
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As far as medical and open enrollment most companies waive that for a life changing event such as divorce, adoption and when the the other spouse loses their job & coverage. I would check with whomever oversees the human resource aspect at ft Dix

Yout post is very well rounded and makes perfect sense~~~~SIGH~~~~~~ it's just too bad it couldn't be followed
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:46 AM
 
7 posts, read 14,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandee1213 View Post
Piney Power- you are lucky to be at Fort Dix and that your job was not in jeopardy. My husband was a civilian federal employee at Fort Monmouth and now we are in De., so he can work at APG. I know that is off topic with your message, but I thought I would throw that in there. Many people's jobs are at jeopardy at Fort Monmouth, it is not just teachers who are losing their jobs in this economy.
I wasn't trying to say that they were-we're both aware that jobs are being lost everywhere. It's just that whenever the topic of teachers losing their jobs comes up, it's always accompanied by a cheering section. One of my main points in all of this is the hole the state has dug itself into district by district with administrative costs in education. In every district in the state there is a salary guide for teachers. It tells the teachers in plain black and white language what the bottom step of the range is, what the top step of the range is, and how many steps are in between. The most important part of that is the top and the fact that there is one established. That doesn't seem to be the case for administrators-why not? And why is the Governor not calling attention to it? How is letting go folks like my wife at $48K a year going to help when there are multiple six figure salaries sitting in the administrative offices?

Quote:
Originally Posted by njkate View Post
As far as medical and open enrollment most companies waive that for a life changing event such as divorce, adoption and when the the other spouse loses their job & coverage. I would check with whomever oversees the human resource aspect at ft Dix

Yout post is very well rounded and makes perfect sense~~~~SIGH~~~~~~ it's just too bad it couldn't be followed
I will look into that-I was under the impression that it was only for marriage, birth, etc...I'll see if spouse job loss is covered.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Forest Hills
555 posts, read 1,416,080 times
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It seems we listen to the same radio station, I posted something similar in another thread.

Again, Christie's agenda is to consolidate school districts... the issue is he doesn't have authority as Governor of the state to force that... by reducing budgets, he was pushing the districts to consolidate themselves to save money... unfortunately the BOE's and Admins are saving their own jobs first by laying off teachers vs consollidating. Members of communities need to step up and do what they can to put a stop to that nonsense.

One last thing... check with your employer... loss of a job may qualify as a "life changing event" which would allow you to change your health insurance coverage, I don't know... I know things like deaths and births are covered... I thought job loss might be in there as well. Hope that works out for you.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:48 AM
 
Location: Forest Hills
555 posts, read 1,416,080 times
Reputation: 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by njkate View Post
As far as medical and open enrollment most companies waive that for a life changing event such as divorce, adoption and when the the other spouse loses their job & coverage. I would check with whomever oversees the human resource aspect at ft Dix

Yout post is very well rounded and makes perfect sense~~~~SIGH~~~~~~ it's just too bad it couldn't be followed
Dang, you type faster than me! That's what I get for typing 1 handed while I eat.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:52 AM
 
14,776 posts, read 33,998,626 times
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I agee with the points you are making, especially in regards to capping the administrators pay and the state taking a more direct role in controlling their compensation.

The only area I disagree on is the union mentality of the slippery slope (not your point per se, more of the unions) and the belief that people vilify teachers and expect them to make minimum wage. I think most people stand with the teachers and would like to see every one of them retained. However, the rhetoric and inflexibility of the union on the areas of pay, benefits, pension and accountability sours a lot of people. I sincerely believe that the union is the single entity doing the most damage to teachers right now.

I hope your wife is able to find another job and quick. Dedicated, enthusiastic and involved teachers are what our kids need. It's just too bad the tenure crowd is willing to sacrifice them to save their own pocketbooks.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:55 AM
 
1,787 posts, read 4,739,214 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piney_power View Post
... I also understand that the offer was made to all locals of the union to contribute 1.5% of salary toward health benefits, and to agree to a one year wage freeze, which her local is not supporting. . . . I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just trying to emphasize the fact that we do actually know what folks in the private sector are going through. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts on this.
I have a single friend (no kids) that pays a little more than $400.00 a month for health benefits (and that's her portion after her job pays the rest). I feel lucky that I pay 2.3% of my pay towards health benefits. Unless you pay a portion of your health benefits, you don't know what the private sector is going through.

I'm sorry for your wife may lose her job; job cuts should start at the top.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Forest Hills
555 posts, read 1,416,080 times
Reputation: 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piney_power View Post
I wasn't trying to say that they were-we're both aware that jobs are being lost everywhere. It's just that whenever the topic of teachers losing their jobs comes up, it's always accompanied by a cheering section.
I think you're off base with this as well... few on this board say we have too many teachers... too small of class sizes... most of us are of the belief there is way too much administration and that the benefit package received by teachers is too high. Once upon a time, a poor salary was balanced by an extremely luctrative benefit package including pension... now their salary is competitive and they continue to receive the same or similar benefit package that pushes their total compensation way out of line for the number of hours they work, the level of education they receive (lets face it, not all Bachelor degrees are equal), and the supply of potential teachers that exist (while not everyone can be a teacher, most of us with college degrees could have easily received a BA in Education). That's what unions do... destroy supply and demand economics through corporate blackmail... add $130M a year annual budget and a lot of bleeding heart "it's for the children" campaigns and the pendelum likely has swung way too far to the side of the teachers and NJEA.

I for one hate to see any capable person lose their job... I can only imagine the heart break and fear that must come with it. I'm simply looking for a more realistic balance. I quoted these numbers in another thread but they were entirely ignored.

NJ is 2nd in the nation in cost per pupil to educate a child... something like 40% over the national average, $4000 per student more than the average.

If we assume 200,000 teachers and each teacher teaching 20 students, the 4,000,000 students in NJ... at $4,000 a student, we're spending $16,000,000,000 ($16 BILLION) a year extra than what we'd be spending if we were at the national average. While 20 students per class may be slightly lower than the national average (I honestly don't know, haven't looked, may not even be true), I'm assuming that $16B a year is being driven mostly by overly generous compensation packages when compared to peers in other states and bloated administration charges.

Tax payers do have a right to be upset... our current education system is not sustainable due to the cost. Again, we don't want to see teachers fired, we just want some fiscal responsibility to be returned.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:01 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
2,665 posts, read 3,306,264 times
Reputation: 577
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piney_power View Post
Specifically, I heard a report on the news this morning that over 700 district officials statewide make more than the Commissioner of Education! The Commissioner's salary is something like $154K per year. The fact that there was never a salary cap for Superintendents and the like put in place years ago is insane! By state law no Commissioner can make more than the Governor-so why should Superintendents!?
This is proof that local boards of education are unable to control spending. I've all but given up on consolidation but do wish they'd push for these high ranking administrative positions to be state employees. Dig into it, some of these positions are making 300,000+ per year while local boards play games trying to hide it.

It's unfair that teachers take such a public hit while administrative positions duck the limelight.
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